by Christine Ford
Respect! R-E-S-P-E-C-T! To quote, “Most likely one of the catchiest, over repeated lines in all of music.” Written by Otis Redding and sung by Aretha Franklin, the line that follows is what caught my attention as I was mulling over my thoughts prior to writing this article. R-E-S-P-E-C-T “Find out what it means to me” is a tricky concept to ponder.
Respect; what does it mean to you? Do you show respect to yourself, to those around you, to the One Power that gave you life and sustains your existence through every second of the time you have been given to co-create and expand your awareness as you make your way through this life? How do you personally show respect? And in turn, do you feel you are afforded respect from your family, your friends, your colleagues, your significant other?
Regard for Respect
In searching for a definition of the word respect, the one I found which came closest to my understanding of the use of the word respect. The reason it grabbed my attention was due to the use of the word “regard” in the definition. During the twenty four years that I have been a student of Dr. Strickler, throughout his some 35,000 hours of teachings which continue to not only open new awareness but at times are absolutely amazing, he has instilled in me a particular bias that I would like to, as a side note, pass on to our readers for consideration. Actually, this could be an article in and of itself, but I will keep it short!
Dr. Strickler emphasizes the use of the word “regard” in preference to the bastardized use of “value” as a key to the tone and discernment the writer or speaker is using. The meaning of the word value has been twisted and contorted by politics and society to have more of a greed factor, indicating a definition of materialism and monetary wealth. Regard, by comparison, carries a vibration of esteem and genuine worth. Upon sharing that gem with you, please keep that in mind as you read the following definition of respect.
As a Verb
- To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem or admire
- To avoid interfering with or intruding upon
- To relate or refer to; concern
As a Noun
- A feeling of appreciative, often deferential, regard; esteem
- The state of being regarded with honor or esteem
- Due regard for something considered important or authoritative
Evaporation of Respect
The impetus to write about the topic of respect actually came from my job as a teacher in an Elementary school. I have been assigned the task of monitoring 130 7th grade students twenty minutes each day for recess for the past three years. One of my greatest sighs of relief when school ended for Summer Break was that I had a hiatus from this. At first I thought it was just the heat and sun that bothered me; standing outside for twenty minutes in one hundred plus temperatures can be brutal, but upon examining my reaction, I realized it was more than that. A major contributing factor was that I was truly weary of the verbal battles and disrespect coming from the students that I kept trying to find ways to equilibrate with humor and understanding, without giving away my authority!
Respect is evident within my classroom; with the students I work with each day, special needs students in 7th and 8th grade, I strive to build an environment of trust and mutual respect. Even the toughest of them eventually responds to patience and understanding. They get the idea that I truly do care about them, whatever problems or joys they may be experiencing, and am there to help them learn, advance and grow. It is when I go out among the masses I am horrified by the lack of respect and regard for others that is so evident in actions and words among our young people. In my weaker moments I have found myself beginning to wonder when I became the old coot who looks upon the younger generation in despair, shaking my head while declaring that there is no hope.
Deep down inside I know there is hope. There are many young adults who are respectful; take my beautiful granddaughter for example. She is polite, considerate and kind. She can interact with adults and peers, friends and family, those familiar to her and those she has just met. She has the skill and grace of knowing how to present herself, how to share her ideas and thoughts in an articulate, socially acceptable way, without being combative, abrasive or vulgar. I am sure she has her moments, as all teenagers do, when she is less than respectful at home with her parents, but that is part of the course of moving into the independence she needs to establish to be an adult. Am I prejudiced because she is mine? Well, maybe just a little bit, but I have met students at school who are just as respectful not only of adults, but of peers as well; unfortunately the number of kids who are seemingly rude, offensive, entitled and obnoxious has come to far outweigh the more civilized members of our young society, as seen through the lens of my perception.
Sadly, this lack of respect appears to permeate not only our youth, but all aspects of our society, from rudeness in the grocery store, to road rage, to Donald Trump standing on stage making his disrespectful comments and being cheered for as a result! When did we, as a nation, become so angry and inconsiderate of our fellow man? When did holding in regard with honor and esteem ourselves, others around us, and the Lord of Life itself become an out dated relic to be disregarded?
For some time, I have done some serious self-evaluation and questioned whether my expectations and standards are too lofty. I was raised by parents who expected me to be respectful and considerate of others, but I lived in a culture where that was the norm; I raised my children the same way. Consistent expectations and traits of behavior were instilled in my granddaughter by her parents; she was born in 2000. Being a teacher and in touch with youth, I began to notice a glitch in the matrix along about 2000, the year I took a hiatus from public education. Somewhere over the progression, or perhaps, regression, of the past twenty or so years, there has been a lowering of the bar in general within our society of what is considered polite, acceptable and respectful treatment of others. In a nutshell, the expectation of common courtesy and respect for those around us appears to have gone down the tubes!
When there is such a dramatic change in the foundation of expected behavior, there must be a cause. Articles have been written regarding the lack of respect not only within schools, but within society in general. Lack of empathy among students and diminished respect for authority has been studied. Research does agree that there is an increasing lack of respect and compassion shown towards others; though there are differing thoughts as to the cause. The phenomenon is recognized by educators and the social sciences as well, not only within the schools, but within our society as a whole.
Though I have not done any formal research, I am able to speak from the microcosm of what I experience with my students during that twenty minutes each school day, and to be brutally honest, there are times when the enormity of it overwhelms me! I would venture to suggest the theory that the weakening of the family unit as a result of parents having to hold two jobs in order to make ends meet, kids coming home to nothing but reality shows and video games, the time for sharing family experiences and teaching the courtesy and respect by example has diminished drastically.
The students I work with are struggling to not only discover their identity and truth, to exert their autonomy and authority, but to somehow make their way through what is increasingly becoming a maze of elevated expectations and ever changing norms. They feel the need to fit in, yet at the same time strive to be unique and independent. They share the need to be understood, accepted and held in high regard for that which they are and that which they are becoming, and they need to learn how to give that respect back to those around them!
Hmmm … Pause … now ponder a minute! Those kids’ needs are not so very different from what we, as adults, are going through within every interaction we have whether it be at home, at work, at the grocery store, or online, are they? My students are a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosmic cycle of rampant disrespect, anger and intolerance we see within our country, whether it be based on race, religion, sex, authority or ethnicity. The abuse and demise of respect is what has lead to the fiasco of the idiocy of Donald Trump becoming the Republican choice for the High Office of this incredible concept of the United States of America.
We, however, are the adults, and should know better! My students are lacking the experiences and life lessons upon which to base their choices and that is the difference. We, as the adults: parents, mentors, teachers, have the power and the responsibility to demonstrate through our actions or our non-actions the decisions that need to be made, the actions that need to be taken, in order for our society to once again make respect for ourselves and those around us the foundation upon which human interaction is based. We, as the co-creators of the future of this world, need to ask ourselves what respect does mean to each and every one of us, and we must instill respect for self, for other and for the All That Is within the confused and frustrated youth seeking to find themselves.
We, the people. We, the people, need to regain that respect we had as a nation, as a proud sovereign nation, with rights guaranteed by the Constitution. We, the people, need to show respect for ourselves and others, demonstrating the proud ideals upon which our Nation was based. We, the people, need to acknowledge that we did not give birth to ourselves, that the One Power that created this dimension be held in highest regard, as we demonstrate by holding ourselves and fellow man in highest regard.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T “Find out what it means to me” What does respect mean to you? Contemplate, search your heart, discover what it means to you, and then share that with everyone you have the chance to meet. You never know how far those small ripples travel, or how many souls will be influenced by your words and actions derived from respect.
(and bite me SEO, get a brain)
Christine J. Ford
Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC